The "Empire" is safe

The "Empire" is safe
The flood in the Special Public Prosecutor's Office destroyed evidence from one of the most important cases - "Empire". This news flooded the media yesterday, so that later the Special Public Prosecutor's Office had to explain that things were quite different. The SPO said that there was no flood in the institution, but that a week ago, in the evening on a weekend, a pipe from the central heating system burst and the water covered documents related to three cases - "Spy", "Trista" and the case "Empire". Although it was reported that the flood occurred in the basement premises, the SPO briefed that they did not have a basement and that the defect occurred in the ground rooms in which there is an office.

The prosecutor who leads the "Empire" case, Lile Stefanova, told Nezavisen Vesnik/Independent daily newspaper that at the night of the incident, her team came to the institution and everything that was there was immediately taken out and that the SPO only had a small part of the evidence in that room. She pointed out that there was no destroyed evidence of the "Empire" case, in which the main suspects are the former head of the secret police, Saso Mijalkov, businessman Orce Kamcev and ten other people. She suspected that someone was trying to create a wrong image that evidence was destroyed and discredit the "Empire" case.

"Everything is registered, scanned and adequately secured," said Stefanova.

The SPO also confirmed that the evidence from the "Empire" case is there, that the water covered and got some of the documents wet, but that they were preserved and dried and there was no problem with them. According to the version of the SPO, there is a possibility that there might be some documents missing from the cases "Trista" and "Spy" that are in court proceedings, but if this was confirmed, they will get the documents from other institutions.

"Documents are additionally scanned and stored in electronic version," said the SPO. The defect that happened in the SPO premises was published at a time when the major political parties, SDSM and VMRO-DPMNE, are about to start negotiations in order to secure majority and pass the draft law on public prosecution with which the status of the SPO should be resolved. VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski is seeking the replacement of the Special Public Prosecutor, Katica Janeva and her team, while Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, at least publicly and declaratively, says that he will not sacrifice Janeva, but it is still uncertain how the two-thirds majority will be secured in order to pass this law.

Although working groups would have to be formed to deal with differences between the two political parties, there are still no remarks from VMRO-DPMNE.

Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs Bujar Osmani from DUI, a party whose leader is a suspect in one of the SPO investigations, says this law is an important turning point of the road to getting a date for starting the accession talks. Although he himself is suspected in one of the cases, he says the coalition parties have the will to speed up the process and pass the law, so they set a deadline by March 19th.

"I expect that the dialogue on this draft solution, which we, the ruling parties in the Government, have supported, will continue in order to secure the necessary majority and adopt the law because the SPO will be a turning point for evaluating the progress of the country’s reform agenda," said Osmani.

He said the news that the DUI has requested Janeva’s replacement and her team was fake, and denies that his party has asked that the so-called "bombs" be used as evidence in the SPO investigations after June 30, 2017.

"That is fake news, these were not DUI's demands," Osmani said. The only thing that was controversial in the law is the equitable representation, since many of the Albanian judges should now be retired, and judges and prosecutors will only be elected through the Academy for Judges and Public Prosecutors, which, according to Osmani, the equitable representation fell by 11 percent. Asked if the government would make concessions to secure a majority for the law on SPO, Interior Minister Oliver Spasovski from SDSM had a diplomatic response, saying that the talks must be principled.

"We are open to dialogue, especially on matters of great interest to the country. I think that it has the capacity to understand all that is the interest of the state and what it is that we need to do in order to get a date for negotiations, and to strengthen and build the system of the country if we want progress," Spasovski said.

(FFS)